A day after two NYPD officers were shot and killed, former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness is questioning if New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was right to criticize police beforehand.
McGinness, who was sheriff for five years, and worked for the department for more than 30 years, believes the tragedy in New York highlights why politicians need to be careful when addressing police reforms. De Blasio made several comments criticizing police after the Eric Garner grand jury decision earlier this month.
"(De Blasio) indicated that his own son, who is half African American, would have to act differently in order to survive contacts with the police. I think that was wholly irresponsible and reckless," McGinness told FOX40.
Others within the NYPD could feel the same way. Dozens of officers turned their backs when Mayor de Blasio arrived at a press conference Saturday. McGinness said he knows the death of two officers is not what de Blasio would have wanted. But the former sheriff said the mayor’s message, as well as similar messages from other politicians across the country are not helping to defuse the violence.
"You can see that there are people who will take that information and spin that and feel empowered and justified in using deadly force against the police," McGinness said.
As for a solution moving forward, McGinness said he believes police departments should look to what the Los Angeles Police Department did after the Rodney King riots in the early 1990s.
"It was very bad times in terms of police community relations and they've come a long way since then... They did a couple of things they trained specifically for those events, they brought people in at the right time and exercised I think very wise tactics. They also provided their own system of providing the events which took place and took the mystery out of it," McGinness told FOX40.
But for now McGinness said police across the country are at risks of similar attacks as the one in New York Saturday, something every officer should be aware of.
"Don't make it so every time so every time a member of the community sees an officer it's under adverse circumstances be a part of their life when things are going okay. Be integrated in the community and talk to them on an ongoing basis," McGinness said.
McGinness said he is also not pleased with some of the statements Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson made about police in recent months.
He hopes Mayor Johnson will discuss their disagreements soon on McGinness’ radio show.